medievalpoc:

blue-author:

shredsandpatches:

I think the money quote from this very good post is actually this one:

But such a refusal needs to be handled very carefully, because it’s not symmetric. If you say there are no ‘heterosexuals’ in the Middle Ages, everyone will realise you’re making a particular theoretical point, not talking about actual desires. If you say there are no ‘homosexuals’, it all too easily implies that there were no gays (in Boswell’s sense).

It’s why I’ve taken to framing the issue of same-sex attraction in the middle ages in exactly that way — that the concept of heterosexuality as a category of sexual identity didn’t really exist back then, and that it was considered the invisible default and a type of desire and preference everyone naturally had. While the fact that some people preferred their own sex was certainly recognized — there’s a reference to it in e.g. Marie de France’s Lanval, probably written c. 1170 — it’s probably safest to say that the medieval understanding of sexuality held that same-sex attraction wasn’t something that only happened to those people, that it was theoretically a temptation for anyone (this is for instance the general attitude of Alain of Lille’s Pleint de Nature, a really weird homophobic screed in which a personified Nature complains that Teh Gays are ruining everything, and phrases it in terms of grammar. Rebuttals to this text had a lot of fun with the grammatical aspect of things, since Latin grammar is in fact founded on same-gender attraction). Obviously there are still people who think this way today, but I think it’s getting to be less and less the default, and in general I think people recognize the “if it were legal/accepted, everyone would do it and THEN WHERE WOULD WE BE” type of argument as pretty fringey.

For the most part I think the argument Jaeger makes as cited in the post — that behaviors that look homoerotic to the modern eye might not have had the same connotations in the middle ages — is probably best to keep in mind when we’re talking about individuals. It’s always very difficult to determine conclusively whether someone hundreds of years ago was gay or bisexual, on the grounds that there was a wider range of emotional expressions available between same-sex friends and that explicit references to people having same-sex relationships are invariably meant to be disparaging. But on the other hand one also doesn’t want to give the impression that there weren’t any queer people back then, because of course there were.

Reblogging both for historical homosexuality and for the discussion about the necessity of using modern concepts/categories when dealing with history.

image

(Source: unspeakablevice)

mademoiselle-red said: It seems to me from (high school history class) that medieval European society was intolerant of differences. Any difference from the majority were frowned upon. How did nonPOCs in medieval Europe view POCs, who were in the minority in terms of skin color being different from the majority of their neighbors? Did they 1) perceive that there was a difference? 2) did they believe pigmentation made someone "other", or was it insignificant, as inconsequential as having a different hair color?

medievalpoc:

Uh. I’m not even sure how to answer a question framed this way. I choose 3) Medieval European society spans about a thousand years and an entire continent (albeit a smallish one, you know, for a continent) so any answer given to this would be both right and wrong simultaneously. The wording is really confusing, and I don’t really understand why “did they perceive a difference?” would be an option.

I will definitely differ from the idea that “any difference was frowned upon”. That’s not true at all. Medieval Europeans often thought someone who was very different was exciting and cool, like, as long as they didn’t constitute some kind of obvious threat or belong to a group considered at odds with or a threat to the dominant culture of that particular place or time. Really intense antipathy was mostly reserved for familiar-difference type stuff, like oppression and persecution of Jewish people, Roma/Romany, et cet. Also, The Crusades were a thing.

I express my condolences for your high school history class. And like, of course they perceived human difference, but…the way it was perceived and the differences that were seen as significant varied a lot. To generalize, the really important differences would have been religion, gender, and social class/financial status, with some variance for ability/disability status. Ethnicity would have variously been an important difference or grouping which intersects with religion, and eventually a sort of proto-nationality type thing.

The bottom line is, we can never really know, because if someone wasn’t perceived as “Other” they weren’t depicted that way in art, or described that way in literature or records. I mean, we are talking about an era during which representational art of non-religious human figures just kind of disappeared and reappeared with cultural and social fluctuations in the area(s).

Additionally, there were places during this era that just didn’t make images of people at all, for the most part. Hence people asking me for images of people of color in Viking art, and I’m just like….uh….

image

image

Source

A lot of the research going on in that direction is more like, “this is probably a human face”.

Now, there are those who take this kind of representation as evidence of racial homogeneity and isolation (a.k.a. Vikings never saw people of color), which I think is ridiculous, because Vikings. And then there are those like me who think that this is because Vikings (an extremely general term, really) didn’t place much importance on human features we would consider “racial” nowadays, or maybe they did and just didn’t care about drawing realistic looking people.

Anyhow, I just picked something at random to try and ground the conversation, but really I could just wave my arms around and yell “history!” and feel like I was answering that question, too.

If it helps, in support of your point, in late medieval England there were stories and art all over the island with PoC of colour in them, as well as people of African decent in London and likely most major port cities, but this tends to be handled in a matter of fact descriptive way.  So and so was a “Moor” or had “a dark complexion” etc., but I haven’t seen any examples that look like modern racist language before the 16th century.  It doesn’t mean there wasn’t any, but the mentions I’ve seen tend to be fairly neutral.

  At the same time there was very anti-Semitic language and the expulsion of Jews under Edward I.  The seizure of their goods filled Edward’s treasury and funded his wars, so there is argument about how much was propaganda intending to justify the persecution and how much was heartfelt by those spreading it.  I’m of the opinion it was both, but it’s unprovable barring the finding of a letter or manuscript clarifying things.

There are also variety of vernacular songs and texts talking about the “Flemish” in terms that are very offensive and would read as racist if the writers/singers and the people they are mocking/attacking weren’t from populations that looked pretty much the same.  There were also laws strictly limiting travel and residency for the Flemish (and likely the Dutch and other Northern European foreigners, who often got lumped in with the Flemish for reasons that had to do with trade routes and the tendency for monolingual commoners in England not clearly distinguishing vaguely Germanic type languages and people from each other).  These laws did not apply to native born folks with darker skin, but were very clearly aimed at people who were not English or French speakers.  (The nobles being French speaking at the time and at England having territory in France to varying degrees in the late middle ages). 

There was clearly Othering going on, but I agree that the manifestation was focused in a way that is really different from the way it is in the modern USA.

medievalpoc:

maryrobinette:

Every time I see someone who complains that the inclusion of people of colour in historical fantasy/film/novels/tv is part of a politically correct agenda, I want to point to these images and say, “Look. Painted from models. Models who were living in Europe. These artists weren’t including people of colour for political correctness. They were included because they were there.”

medievalpoc:

I recently received a message asking about what kind of jobs and occupations a Medieval European of color might have, as they had only seen “merchant” and “solider” listed as possible occupations in specific articles.

Part of the problem is framing the inquiry that way, since at this point it’s…

(SQUEE)

Exactly.

Almost all the descriptions you read at museum websites for these works either

1. ignore the people of color, or

2. Go on and on about how “EXCEPTIONAL” and “Super First EVER!” that particular work is.

1,500-ish works of art posted on medievalpoc later and I’m here like…well….not so much. At all, really.

The National Portrait Gallery claims this one as “the first”, The Walters says this one is “the first”, The National Gallery of Art seems flummoxed that Dürer could have somehow encountered “an African!" totally ignoring the Black German in this other print in the SAME collection, and the SAME slideshow!.

Just to underscore how absolutely ridiculous a claim like “inclusion=political correctness” I’ve posted some scenes like this one of a bustling waterfront, where it’s kind of painfully obvious how many rather specifically Black people of all stations and occupations were living their Medieval lives in Europe (Netherlandish,c. 1570):

image

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image

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medievalpoc:

lostislamichistory:


A phenomenon known as “Psuedo-Kufic” swept across Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. European artists hoped to make Christian paintings look more refined and wealthy, so they would draw fake Arabic letters, imitating the Arabic calligraphy so popular in the Muslim world.


This is true.
Tatar Cloth
Tatar People (Brittanica.com)
The Silk Road in Antiquity (the Met Museum)
Commercial Exchange and Diplomacy Between Venice and the Islamic World
A little more about Venice and the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids
By the time the cloth got to Italy, it was already expensive. By the time it got to Northwestern Europe, it was nearly priceless.

medievalpoc:

lostislamichistory:

A phenomenon known as “Psuedo-Kufic” swept across Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. European artists hoped to make Christian paintings look more refined and wealthy, so they would draw fake Arabic letters, imitating the Arabic calligraphy so popular in the Muslim world.

This is true.

Tatar Cloth

Tatar People (Brittanica.com)

The Silk Road in Antiquity (the Met Museum)

Commercial Exchange and Diplomacy Between Venice and the Islamic World

A little more about Venice and the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids

By the time the cloth got to Italy, it was already expensive. By the time it got to Northwestern Europe, it was nearly priceless.

(Source: respecttheclothing)

They think they’ve identified the volcano that caused “The Year Without a Summer!” 

For the record, I don’t take sides on Vlad Tepes.  Most of the records that survive are enemy propaganda.  While that doesn’t mean things in them aren’t true, odds are high of exaggeration at minimum.  Certainly, he was defending his country from invasion.  There’s also a lot of complicated internal and external politics going on, that make me suspect at least some of the atrocities attributed to him might be true.  Also, in the context of the period even the version his enemies published, while extreme isn’t that far off early modern standard for Europe.  This is not an apology for rape, torture, and mass executions, merely my way of pointing out that to some degree or other the major European governments including the Catholic Church were also indulging in the same sort of behavior and would continue to do so for some time.  (Check out the torture and execution rate for the Tudors in the century following Vlad Tepes’ reign or what his contemporaries in Italy were up to).  Again, I’m not condoning these atrocities any more than I condone the Venetians rounding up, mutilating, ans executing people like me.   I’m just saying that he stands out less when placed in the context of his contemporaries than he does when looked from a 21st century perspective.

 I suspect the reality is somewhere in between the Romanian version and that of his enemies.  The thing is, though, that given the dearth of verifiable evidence, we’ll likely never know.  I’d love for there to be a major, unexpected document find o archeological breakthrough, but I’m not holding my breath.

calligrafiti:

bad-fanfiction:

kvothetheraving:

Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That.

celynbrum:

gwydionmisha:

writeroost:

gwydionmisha:

As someone who originally trained as a social historian of the Medieval Period, I have some things to add…

While useful for fantasy writers, this is also of interest to anyone dealing with the idea of “traditional” gender roles (in Western/European cultures). Which tradition? Early industrial? Late agrarian nobility? Should we raise our children to be ladies and gentlemen when we don’t have Downton Abbey to leave them? Or maybe we should be respecting work done in the home—housework—as an important part of domestic economy.

capslockdoesntexpressmyjoy:

0xymoronic:

shitarianasays:

theeyesinthenight:

the-sonic-screw:

platinumpixels:

volpesvolpes:

unseilie:

sarahvonkrolock:

gaysexagainstawall:

them-days-was-olden-as-fuck:

The spread of the black death.

Poland

Poland, tell us your secret.

Poland is the old new Madagascar. 

If I remember correctly, Poland’s secret is that the jews where being blamed all over europe (as usual) as scapegoats for the black plague. Poland was the only place that accepted Jewish refugees, so pretty much all of them moved there. 
Now, one of the major causes of getting the plague was poor hygiene. This proved very effective for the plague because everyone threw their poop into the streets because there were no sewers, and literally no one bathed because it was against their religion. Unless they were jewish, who actually bathed relatively often. When all the jews moved to Poland, they brought bathing with them, and so the plague had little effect there.
Milan survived by quarantining its city and burning down the house of anyone showing early symptoms, with the entire family inside it. 

I reblogged this tons of times, but the Milan info is new.
Damn Italy, you scary.

Poland: “Hey, feeling a bit down? Have a quick wash! There, you see? All better”
Milan: “Aw, feeling a bit sick are we? BURN MOTHERFUCKER, BURN!!!!!”

Also, this might have something to do with it: from what I understand, O blood type is uncommonly… common in Poland. Something to do with large families in small villages and a LOT of intermarriage. The black plague was caused by a bacterium that produced, in its waste in the human body, wastes that very closely mimic the “B” marker sugars on red blood cells that keep the body from attacking its own immune system. Anyone who has a B blood type had an immune system that was naturally desensitized to the presence of the bacterium, and therefore was more prone to developing the disease. Anyone who had an O type was doubly lucky because the O blood type means the total absence of ANY markers, A or B, meaning that their bodys’ immune system would react quickly and violently against the invaders, while someone with an A may show symptoms and recover more slowly, while someone with B would have just died. Because O is a recessive blood type, it shows in higher numbers when more people who carry the recessive genes marry other people who also carry the recessive gene. Poland, which has a nearly 700 year history of being conquered by or partnering with every other nation in the surrounding area, was primarily an agricultural country, focused around smaller, farming communities where people were legally tied to, and required to work, “their” land, and so historically never “spread” their genes across a large area. The economy was, and had been, unstable for a very long period of time leading up to the plague, the government had been ineffective and had very little reach in comparison to the armies of the other countries around for a very very long time, and so its people largely remained in small communities where multiple generations of cross-familial inbreeding could have allowed for this more recessive gene to show up more frequently. Thus, there could be a higher percentage of O blood types in any region of the country, guaranteeing less spread of the illness and moving slower when it did manage to travel. Combine this with the fact that there were very few large, urban centers where the disease would thrive, and with the above facts, and you’ve got a lovely recipe for avoiding the plague.
Interestingly enough, as a result from the plague, the entirety of Europe now has a higher percentage of people with O blood type than any other region of the world. 

WHY IS THIS ALL SO COOL

When Tumblr teaches you more about the plague than 12 years of school ever did.

SCIENCE.

capslockdoesntexpressmyjoy:

0xymoronic:

shitarianasays:

theeyesinthenight:

the-sonic-screw:

platinumpixels:

volpesvolpes:

unseilie:

sarahvonkrolock:

gaysexagainstawall:

them-days-was-olden-as-fuck:

The spread of the black death.

Poland

Poland, tell us your secret.

Poland is the old new Madagascar. 

If I remember correctly, Poland’s secret is that the jews where being blamed all over europe (as usual) as scapegoats for the black plague. Poland was the only place that accepted Jewish refugees, so pretty much all of them moved there. 

Now, one of the major causes of getting the plague was poor hygiene. This proved very effective for the plague because everyone threw their poop into the streets because there were no sewers, and literally no one bathed because it was against their religion. Unless they were jewish, who actually bathed relatively often. When all the jews moved to Poland, they brought bathing with them, and so the plague had little effect there.

Milan survived by quarantining its city and burning down the house of anyone showing early symptoms, with the entire family inside it. 

I reblogged this tons of times, but the Milan info is new.

Damn Italy, you scary.

Poland: “Hey, feeling a bit down? Have a quick wash! There, you see? All better”

Milan:Aw, feeling a bit sick are we? BURN MOTHERFUCKER, BURN!!!!!”

Also, this might have something to do with it: from what I understand, O blood type is uncommonly… common in Poland. Something to do with large families in small villages and a LOT of intermarriage. The black plague was caused by a bacterium that produced, in its waste in the human body, wastes that very closely mimic the “B” marker sugars on red blood cells that keep the body from attacking its own immune system. Anyone who has a B blood type had an immune system that was naturally desensitized to the presence of the bacterium, and therefore was more prone to developing the disease. Anyone who had an O type was doubly lucky because the O blood type means the total absence of ANY markers, A or B, meaning that their bodys’ immune system would react quickly and violently against the invaders, while someone with an A may show symptoms and recover more slowly, while someone with B would have just died. Because O is a recessive blood type, it shows in higher numbers when more people who carry the recessive genes marry other people who also carry the recessive gene. Poland, which has a nearly 700 year history of being conquered by or partnering with every other nation in the surrounding area, was primarily an agricultural country, focused around smaller, farming communities where people were legally tied to, and required to work, “their” land, and so historically never “spread” their genes across a large area. The economy was, and had been, unstable for a very long period of time leading up to the plague, the government had been ineffective and had very little reach in comparison to the armies of the other countries around for a very very long time, and so its people largely remained in small communities where multiple generations of cross-familial inbreeding could have allowed for this more recessive gene to show up more frequently. Thus, there could be a higher percentage of O blood types in any region of the country, guaranteeing less spread of the illness and moving slower when it did manage to travel. Combine this with the fact that there were very few large, urban centers where the disease would thrive, and with the above facts, and you’ve got a lovely recipe for avoiding the plague.

Interestingly enough, as a result from the plague, the entirety of Europe now has a higher percentage of people with O blood type than any other region of the world. 

WHY IS THIS ALL SO COOL

When Tumblr teaches you more about the plague than 12 years of school ever did.

SCIENCE.

(Source: , via urihu)

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